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Skiddaw

Skiddaw (931 metres) is the primary fell, or mountain, in the Lake District National Park and the fourth largest in the entire country, behind Scafell. As a matter of fact, Skiddaw (3, 054 feet) is the shortest fell over the 3,000-foot mark, and there aren’t many of those in England, which makes Skiddaw a distinguished geological formation in the Lake District, even the United Kingdom, in terms of size alone. Skiddaw is one of a pair, along with Skiddaw Little Man, which sits a kilometre-and-a-half (1 ½) to the southeast. Skiddaw is located approximately five-and-a-half (5 ½) kilometres north of the village of Keswisk and northwest of Millbeck.

Topographically, Skiddaw is quite interesting. From a distance, the fell appears like a structured frame with a smooth green blanket thrown over it. Ironically, however, Skiddaw’s slopes are steep. The ridges of Skiddaw are smooth and curved and can allow the eye to trail around, here and there, as if on a track.

These graceful curves account, at least in part, for the well-known fell-running challenge named for Bob Graham, hence taking the name Bob Graham Round, which is a running exercise around the Skiddaw from bottom to top, in a clockwise direction. Many people are attracted to this, as well as climbing the great mountain, and the steepness, instead of deterring them, would likely encourage them to take on the challenge. Skiddaw is quite intimidating, if breathtaking to view, and it obviously has good reason to be.

Skiddaw has influenced many nearby features with its greatness, such as Skiddaw forest, in which rests Skiddaw House, a stone structure that has taken on so many identities over the years, including a shooting lodge, a shepherd’s bothy, and, most recently, a youth hostel. The slate of which Skiddaw is comprised as taken Skiddaw’s name to establish its own distinction: Skiddaw slate. From this many things are constructed, especially percussion musical instruments, or musical stones, that are appropriately showcased in the Keswith Museum and Art Gallery.

As a matter of fact, Skiddaw is the heart of a group of fells and crags that revolve like satellites around it, namely Bakestall to the north; Little Man, “Lesser Man,” Jenkin Hill, Lonscale Fell and Latrigg to the south; and Ullock Peak, Long Slide Edge, Carl Slide and Dodd to the west, over and beyond Millbeck. Hare Crag and Sale Crag are situated with other crags just north and northeast respective of Skiddaw.

Skiddaw slate, known as Kirkstile formation, is Ordovician rock comprised of other valuable elements, such as laminated mudstone, which produces the shiny effect that slate has; siltstone; and greywacke sandstone, which lend weight from compressed sand grains. The summit of Skiddaw is further coated with scree. This slate has become extremely appreciated and useful in the Lake District and all over the United Kingdom for its versatile nature.

Even more impressive is the fact that Skiddaw is considered the easiest to traverse or ascend due to a well-established tourist trail extending from an auto park located at Keswick’s northeast border to the summit of the fell. This almost takes the excitement out of it because there’s no challenge. Still, it is the safest, and that’s what the guides prefer, for obvious reasons.

Anyone interested in mountain climbing and planning on travelling to the Lake District must experience the Skiddaw if no other fell in the area. This is the ultimate, and it is for a reason, of which it has proved itself already. One can tell merely by gazing upon it.